If you were thinking to yourself the Raiders must have been either the worst or among the worst on the special teams, you were right. They were dead last in several key categories last season.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News combined all the special teams in the NFL to rank them. The Raiders came out at 29. Only the Lions, Redskins, and Panthers ranked below the Raiders in overall special teams play.
But there are several categories where the Raiders special teams was unmatched in their ineptitude. The Raiders finished last season dead last in punt return yardage (5.1 yards per return), kickoff coverage (28.9 yards per kickoff allowed), and opponents net punting (42.9 yards per punt).
The Raiders have long had the best kicker/punter duo in the NFL. Probably the best all time. Where they needed help was in returns and coverage. And that is where they failed miserably.
Having a healthy Jacoby Ford would have helped some. But even he would have struggled with the lackluster blocking. Rock Cartright would have helped as well. He was a free agent and wanted to return to the Raiders but they showed no interest in the former two-time Commitment to Excellence award recipient.
This failure led to the departure of Steve Hoffman as special teams coordinator and the hiring of former Eagles special teams coordinator, Bobby April.
Upon April's hire, a few Eagles fans stopped in to let us know April had a very disappointing year in 2012. Now, with the rankings, we can see what he was talking about.
The Eagles too were dead last in two categories. The first was punts inside the 20-yards line of which they had just 15 all season. The other was giveaways. Their special teams turned the ball over four times last season which was alone as the worst in the NFL.
Those are the stats that had Eagles fans up in arms about April who has a wealth of experience as a special teams coordinator and is a two-time ST coach of the year.
April will have to prove last season was a fluke. On one hand he will be following Hoffman so it will be difficult to be any worse. On the other hand, he is inheriting essentially the same group as last season on the field.
The key, aside from coaching, will be a healthy Jacoby Ford as well as a couple of solid special teams additions to bolster the unit.